Let it never be said that Mark Helprin does not love, or believe in the spirit of, America. Reading this will make you proud to live in such a country, regardless of feelings towards one's fellow countrymen. There were certainly places where Helprin could have trimmed verbosity.
This is all at once a satire of the British monarchy, a fairy tale, a Horatio Algeresque story, and an entertaining piece of fiction about a man and a woman who learn to love each other. Several passages in this almost moved me to tears, not only because of their truth and beauty, but because I felt as if Helprin was in my mind. And the reactions of the other characters made me feel as if he'd pulled the scene from my life.
None of us are born to be kings or queens. This is something one must earn and sitting on one's figurative laurels will never get one there. If there is one thing to take from this book it is this: read, study, and strive to be a cultured and better person and the world is yours; nothing can stop you. Seek out new experiences and make wise decisions; nothing can stop you. Strive to reach such an understanding and such a love of epic proportions with another person that your bond is stronger than anything else; nothing can stop you.
I was hesitant to finish this book because not only did I want to believe that it continued indefinitely, but because I knew that putting it down would then place the onus upon me to become as educated, confident, and great a person as both Freddy and Fredericka became. And having read the last page, I know that it is not only within me to do that, but that I will.
Don't pass up a chance to read this book! I found myself laughing aloud through the entire thing. Even though it is one of my favorites, I cannot hold onto a copy of my own, as I keep giving it away to friends.
This was one of the odder books I've read in a long time! It started a little slow, then got interesting, then got slow, but by the end I was really glad I slogged through. It's sort of Monty Python-ish, ridiculous but amusing and enjoyable most of the time. Definitely worth checking out, but plan on raising your eyebrows and sighing a few times before it's all over!
Imagine if the heir to the British throne and his glamorous bride were so dysfunctional that they were forced by the royal family to travel to the U.S.A. incognito with no money, possessions or connections and stay until they had reconquered our land. How would such a ridiculous adventure change them? That's the premise of this hilarious and strangely touching book. Helprin manages to skewer everyone - British and American - while avoiding a heavy-handed cynicism. The book is filled with absurd puns and cultural references that may render it indecipherable to future generations so read it now!